Phase 1 of the University Personnel System (UPS) initiative focused on laying the groundwork for the transformation through assessing the current state of policies and processes in order to effectively build the future state.  The assessment of the current personnel systems rested primarily with the institutions. Each of the institutions is in the best position to analyze the strengths and challenges of the current personnel systems that limit the institutions’ ability to manage effectively its workforce.  The institutions provided detailed assessments and outlined where the prohibition exists e.g., a statute, the local personnel rules, the civil service constraints, etc. It was suggested that the HR Directors/Academic Personnel Officers of each institution serve as the facilitator in the institution discussions as they understand the inner workings of the current personnel systems.   

The UW System and universities, colleges, and extension key stakeholder groups are:

  • Chancellors
  • Provosts/Vice Chancellors
  • Chief Business Officers
  • Chief Student Affairs Officers
  • Human Resources Director/Academic Personnel Officers
  • Faculty
  • Academic Staff
  • Non-represented classified staff
  • Represented classified staff
  • Others as determined by the individual institution

The institutions’ current state assessments served as a starting point to begin designing and building the framework of the future state of the new University Personnel System (UPS). 

The Office of Human Resources & Workforce Diversity (OHRWD) reviewed  the current state assessment goals, suggested process, and timeline with stakeholder groups as detailed below.

Assessment of Current State of Personnel Systems

As with any business change, one of the most important steps is to assess the current state in order to effectively build the future state. Each institution (not including UW-Madison) was asked, in September 2011, to assess the current classified and unclassified personnel systems and detail specific problems, symptoms or limitations that prohibit or limit its ability to effectively manage its workforce. Institutions were expected to complete this assessment by early November 2011. The findings from the independent assessments would serve as the starting point to support the development of the new University Personnel System (UPS) framework.

Institutions' Current State Assessments

The current state assessment findings from each institution were reviewed and compiled to produce a single report that categorizes current state problems, symptoms, and limitations into several overarching categories: General, Benefits and Leave Entitlements, Classification and Title, Compensation, Employment, Layoffs and Grievance Procedures, Recruitment, Supervision and Discipline, Work Environment, and Miscellaneous.

Additional information provided in the report includes: (1) an indication if the issue pertains to both the current classified and unclassified systems (indicated by the letter “B” in the first column); to only the unclassified system (indicated by the letter “U”); and to only the classified system (indicated by the letter “C”); (2) the priority assigned by the institution to each issue; and (3) the number of institutions reporting the issue.

The combined report provided a design or overview for the UPS Project Team to build a framework for the new University Personnel System.  It also provided each institution with a tool to examine opportunities for increased efficiencies within its control (e.g., the lengthy unclassified recruitment process).

Current State Assessment - All Institutions pdf  

Important Dates in Phase I
  • August 23, 2011 - UPS Task Force established by UW System President Reilly.
  • September 1, 2011 - Chairs Vice Chancellor Darrell Bazzell (UW-Madison) and Chancellor Dennis Shields (UW-Platteville) hold initial UPS Task Force planning meeting. 
  • September 7 - 30, 2011 - Al Crist, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity, briefs key stakeholder groups at various UW System meetings.
  • September 15, 2011 - November 4, 2011 - Stakeholders at each institution asses current state of personnel systems. 
  • November 7-15, 2011 - Compilation of institutions' current state assessment responses.  Each report was reviewed and duplicate and extraneous comments were deleted.  All assessments were combined into a single current state assessment report. (Current State Assessment - All Institutions pdf )
  • November 16, 2011 - Current state assessment shared with HR representatives at an HR conference.
  • November 18, 2011 -  Current state assessment shared with stakeholders.
  • November 2011 - UPS Task Force, UPS Steering Group, and UPS Project Team members named.
  • December 7, 2011 - UPS Task Force holds its first meeting. December 7, 2011 Minutes pdf
  • December 15, 2011 - Published current state assessment on UPS website. (Current State Assessment - All Institutions pdf )


Six University Personnel System (UPS) Work Groups were created to address the key objectives outlined in the single current state assessment.  Chancellors from each UW institution, except UW-Madison, nominated employees to serve participate on six     Each work group was charged with the responsibility of reviewing issues identified in the current state assessment, assessing the priority of when each issue should be addressed in the new personnel systems and making recommendations for the initial draft of the new personnel system.

The work group recommendations are linked below:

  • Benefits Work Group Recommendations 
  • Compensation Work Group Recommendations
  • Employee Categories Work Group Recommendations 
  • Employee Environment Work Group Recommendations
  • Employee Movement Work Group Recommendations
  • Recruitment and Assessment Work Group Recommendations

The initial draft personnel system was developed by the UPS Project Team based on UPS Work Group recommendations.  The initial draft also included identification of key technical statutory changes required to implement the legislative intent of s. 36.115 Wis. Stats.

Important Dates in Phase II
  • February 8, 2012 - UPS Steering Group presents overview to UPS Task Force. (February 8, 2012 Minutes pdf
  • February 9, 2012 - Update the Board of Regents Business, Finance, and Audit Committee
  • March 8, 2012 - Update the Board of Regents on UPS initial draft framework
  • March 16, 2012 - First draft of the UPS Work Group recommendations due.
  • March 20 - 21, 2012 - UPS Project Team develops initial draft recommendations for the personnel system framework.
  • March 29, 2012 - Joint meeting of UPS Work Groups to discuss initial draft recommendations for the personnel system framework.


The UPS Steering Group distributed Work Group UPS Recommendations of new personnel system to all stakeholders at each UW institution and solicited feedback. Over one thousand responses to the initial recommendations were received through multiple communication media, including surveys, emails, and meetings. All feedback responses, regardless of source, were combined into a comprehensive stakeholder feedback summary document. 

Important Dates in Phase III

  • April 12, 2012 - Update the Board of Regents Business, Finance, and Audit Committee 


The UPS Project Team, with the assistance and guidance from all UPS Work Groups, considered all suggestions and feedback from stakeholders gathered in Phase III and refined the initial draft of the UPS framework.  Building on the revised UPS framework, UPS Project Team developed draft operational policies and processes for UPS Work Group recommendations accepted in the UPS framework while working collaboratively with UW-Madison's HR Design Project Team and the Human Resource System Team.

Important Dates in Phase IV

  • July 12-13, 2012 - UPS Steering Group and Project Team meeting
  • August 15, 2012 - Joint meeting for the UPS Work Groups 
  • August 23, 2012 - Update the Board of Regents Business, Finance, and Audit Committee
  • August 24, 2012 - Final summary of the current state assessment


The UPS Steering Group distributed a draft of UPS recommendations to all institutions' stakeholders. A goal of this phase was to finalize the necessary technical statutory changes needed to implement the intent of s. 36.115 Wis. Stats.

Important Dates

  • September 13th - October 19th, 2012 - Proposed Implementation Decisions reviewed by governance groups and other stakeholder groups.
  • September - October 2012: Proposed Implementation Decisions presented to and discussed with legislative leaders.
  • After October 19, 2012 - the UPS Project Team considered all suggestions and revisions to proposed implementation decision documents.


UPS Steering Group reviewed the final UPS draft of implementation decision documents on November 1, 2012.

UPS Task Force reviewed the final draft of implementation decision documents on November 7, 2012. On November 16, 2012, a final draft of the proposed implementation decision documents was reviewed by the Chancellors.

On December 7, 2012, the UW Board of Regents approved plans to establish new university personnel systems that will, for the first time, give the Board administrative authority for all UW System employees.

Under the new personnel systems, classified staff – to be known as University Staff – would move under the authority of the Board of Regents. The employees will also gain, by Regent policy, shared governance rights, providing them a voice in the policies and procedures that affect their work lives.

The Board of Regents reviewed the initial personnel policies for all UW System institutions and approved four resolutions:

  • The Regents’ overarching authority for university personnel systems;
  • First-time governance rights for University Staff;
  • A code of ethics policies for the full workforce; and
  • Technical statutory changes needed to implement the legislative intent of the statute regarding UW System personnel policies, which were requested to be part of Governor’s 2013-15 state budget.
2013 Implementation Pause

The University Personnel System (UPS) and HR Design (HRD) were scheduled to debut on July 1, 2013 pending approval by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) in the spring of 2013. The State of Wisconsin 2013-15 Biennial Budget (2013 WI Act 20) revised the implementation of both UPS and HRD to July 1, 2015. This delay was a change in the implementation date of the good work done by employees all across UW System, and is not an end to this important project. The implementation date change provided UW System employees more time to contemplate and refine recommended personnel systems that will meet the diverse and unique needs of UW System universities, colleges, and extension.


Work continued on the University Personnel System (UPS) to refine the infrastructure and communication networks at each institution with governance groups.  UW System and UW-Madison continued working towards securing final approval from the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) as required by Wis. Stat. § 36.115.

MILESTONE DATE: On April 23, 2014, the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) approved the two personnel systems, University Personnel System (UPS) and  UW-Madison’s HR Design.

Operational policies continue to be drafted, vetted and revised through multiple institution review groups. The Regent policy approved in December 2012 directed that operational policies relating to the 14 areas enumerated in the policy (see attached) need to be brought to the Board for review before initial implementation. Ten UPS operational policies were brought forward for Board of Regents review at the December 2012 meeting. Sixteen additional policies are being brought to the Board for review in April 2015. The additional operational polices are:

  1. UPS Op TC 3: Compensation Structure and Tools
  2. UPS Op BN 1:Vacation, Paid Leave Banks, and Vacation Cash-Outs
  3. UPS Op BN 2: Personal and Legal Holiday Administration
  4. UPS Op BN 3: Sick Leave
  5. UPS Op BN 4: Family & Medical Leave
  6. UPS Op BN 5: Catastrophic Leave Program
  7. UPS Op BN 6: Bone Marrow and Human Organ Donation
  8. UPS Op BN 7 Miscellaneous Leave Provisions
  9. UPS Op BN 8: Non-Medical Leaves of Absence
  10. UPS Op BN 9: Military Leave
  11. UPS Op GEN 21: Crafts Workers
  12. UPS Op GEN 23: Job Related Coursework and Training
  13. UPS Op WE 3: Workplace Expectations
  14. UPS Op HR 5: Performance Management
  15. UPS Op HR 7: University Staff Temporary and Project Appointments
  16. UPS Op GEN 24: Complaint Procedures


UPS Steering Group and UPS Project Team will consider all implementation preparations including, training, communication and transition plans for a July 1, 2015 implementation date.


University Personnel Systems (UW-Madison and UW System) are implemented on July 1, 2015.


July 1, 2015 is an important milestone, but work will continue well beyond this date as we evaluate, evolve and adapt to the ever-changing environment. This is just the beginning of this new personnel system, as the system that we are developing will need to evolve and adapt. We will continue with ongoing efforts to improve and enhance policies and operational processes as needed. Some of this work will include a review and continued feasibility studies of work group recommendations that were identified for further discussion and potential implementation after July 1, 2015. We will focus on working with the institutions on supervisory training, onboarding processes and pursuing a title and total compensation study for employee retention and recruitment. Because the university will have authority over our personnel system, we will be able to make adjustments to meet the changing needs of employees and the university. Faculty, academic staff, university staff and students at UW System institutions will all be integral to identifying where changes or enhancements are required—and developing solutions.